July 14th, 2023
The Pour – Lauren O’Brien
Fresh off winning Netflix's "Drink Masters," LP O'Brien shares some knowledge and teaches us the art of the cocktail
The bubbly beverage professional Lauren O’Brien, known to the world as LP, won our hearts as she mixed her way to the title on Netflix’s “Ultimate Drink Masters.” We caught up with LP to get some insight into the cocktail world and her favorite spirit—whiskey.
What was the first cocktail that intrigued you?
I’d say the Old Fashioned. When you’re learning to bartend, they go through this training and provide you with the definition of a cocktail: A cocktail is defined as sugar, bitters, spirit and water. Which is every ingredient that makes up the Old Fashioned. It used to be called “The Cocktail.” When I was first learning to bartend, understanding classic cocktails is the baseline; deviating from that is how you’re able to create your own fun serve. An Old Fashioned was one of those drinks where I would take one ingredient out and plug another one in to see what I liked and what I didn’t like to gain a better understanding of balance in a beverage.
When you’re building a cocktail, what is the most important element to consider?
The story. When I was working at a bar called Silver Lion in DC, one of the best things they taught us was that storytelling and the impression you want to leave [on the customer] has such a huge impact. So finding the elements of that story that align with the cocktail’s ingredients gives you a much more natural process when developing the concept. It’s all about finding the elements within the idea that allow me to be inspired.
Since we’re focusing on whiskey this issue, can you tell us your thoughts on the spirit?
I love whiskey like it’s nobody’s business. Often I find myself in these spirits competitions that I get to judge and they ask you, “What’s your spirit of choice?” And I’m like, “Whiskey. All of it. Every whiskey you can think of.” I have an affinity for bourbon, I have a particular affinity for Japanese whisky as well. Gosh, now I’m picking and, ooooh, it was Irish whiskey. I’m a little biased palette-wise with how each of them respectively taste, but I think they’re so beautiful. If we’re talking about elegance in whiskey, when I’m looking at my liquor cabinet at home those are the three I’m going to go for. With Japanese whisky, for instance, I love the simplicity of being able to put it in a glass with soda water and a lemon wedge, giving you a beautiful cocktail. I love being able to take a bourbon and enjoy it neat without any sort of modifier. I had the pleasure of visiting the Dead Rabbit in New York and the cocktails they make with Irish whiskey are insane! It really opened my eyes to appreciating that spirit way more as a base for cocktails.
Last question: You’re in a dingy dive bar, what’s your beer-and-a-shot combo?
Schlitz and, damn, what’s that whiskey… There was a bar I used to go to, Ivy & Coney, they had this whiskey on the rail that we would drink all the time. But whatever your rail whiskey is and Schlitz is more than likely going to make me very happy.
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